Gallery ESL/EFL Chat: Three Tips to Counteract Creative Genocide

Are Schools Robbing Children of their Creativity?  

Do public schools benefit our children and prepare them for the challenges ahead or are they systematically robbing their creativity and leaving them unprepared for what’s happening in today’s world?

Or perhaps they are training them to become robots in a standardized system.

A dime a dozen?

In my opinion, creative genocide is happening at an alarming rate it today’s schools. This is not entirely the fault of schools who feel their curriculums must keep up with world standards and who must contend with crowded classrooms which would be hard to manage were they not regimented to keep everyone in pre-established molds.

Consequently the very institutions that are being paid to educate our children are robbing them of their childhood and its innate creative nature, while we, as parents, stand by, helplessly.

Creativity is at its peak during early childhood and when children first enter school. Children require freedom to experiment, play and to make mistakes without being graded or penalized.  With few exceptions, public schools go against the inner creative nature of children. Understandably, It is difficult for schools to control such freedom and exuberance in classroom situations. It is simply much easier to put children into molds where they are docile and easy to handle.

Why shouldn’t we put children into convenient molds at such an early age? 

Let’s Consider the following analogy:

1. Adults need to go to work
Children need to go to play

Play is the work that children need to do.

It is during play that children figure out life, using their creativity to do so. Play time or recess time is therefore not a frivolous luxury but an integral developmental process. You would think that schools would provide adequate play time for children to develop their creativity. Instead public schools often make children sit for hours doing tedious boring classwork with a miserly 10 minutes of recess. Many schools only allot 10 minutes a day for recess and children may lose their recess if they have not completed all the tedious work during class.   

Would you like to be allotted only 10 joyful minutes a day to figure life out?   

Yet it is now common for young children to go to school for seven hours a day and only get one 10 minute recess. In some cases this meager recess is combined with ‘snack’ time. So during those 10 minutes students must first gobble their snacks before being allowed to play.

Where my grandchildren go to school, they must line up in single file after they have finished their snack before they are actually allowed to enter the playground.

To add insult to injury, and this is the scary part, sending your children to school is a legal obligation in most countries, unless you ‘home school’. And even then, ‘home schools’ are regimented by a prescribed curriculum.

I could suggest you move to Timbuktu but that would be like burying your head in the sand. You would be taking your children to a remote area as a way of ‘escaping’ the world. And although they might develop their creativity they might not have an opportunity to use that creativity to solve the many problems facing the world today.

Creativity is like gold but are we destroying the goose with the golden eggs? 

In his famous Ted Talk, “Do schools kill creativity?” Sir Ken Robinson warns us about this serious problem and explains how and why it manifests. He also offers great solutions that could easily be implemented. The Ted Talk below has been viewed by more than 17.5 million people. That is a lot of people! 

Nevertheless school administrations turn a blind eye, don’t prioritize creativity or are simply obligated to proceed with their regimented policies, as if they themselves were robots.

Creativity belongs in the hands of creative ethical human beings, not robots.

Ethical creative human beings can find solutions even when a system is faulty. When I was in high school, for example, we had one amazing principal who took it upon himself to shorten all the class periods by five minutes once a week. This allowed for one extra class period. This extra period made room for an elective subject students could choose.  The subjects were taught by the teachers according to their own hobbies or passions. The classes were always fun and different from regular academic classes. I remember choosing ‘handwriting analysis’ as my elective. 

That was one free solution offered by one creative principal and whether or not you have such a principal there are a few things you can do to support creativity within the system: 

Even the most boring school content has its comical side when viewed objectively.  School work may be like ‘chopping wood, carrying water,’ so there is no harm in splashing around a little. School topics are not like sacred scriptures.  For example help your children memorize facts in a creative way through whacky associations. 

2. ARTS:
As Sir Ken Robinson points out, arts are vital for creativity. If your school does not have a fine and/or preforming arts program, do some lobbying and make sure your kids get it as an extra curricular activity, (worth points), if you can manage that!

Teachers are usually overworked and underpaid which means subjects may be presented in unexciting ways. But even the most boring curriculum can be made exciting with creative teaching.  Teachers need opportunities to develop their own creativity. Lobby for paid professional development for teachers during school time.

Montessori, and Waldorf schools are exceptions but not always accessible, available or affordable for the average family.

Two examples of totally alternative schools are the Sanscriti school at Isha Yoga in India and specialized training for Shaloan monks. Both of these schools educate the whole body/mind/soul, usually though arts, martial arts and other creative disciplines.  Neither aims for degrees or provides portals to enter universities.

Do what you can from within while waiting for the system to change from without.